Geneva College will be playing in its record sixth NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) Victory Bowl on Saturday as it travels to Greenville, IL to take on the Panthers from Greenville College. The Golden Tornadoes closed out the 2009 regular season with an overall record of 7-3 including road losses to Thomas More and Westminster in the last two weeks. Geneva did enjoy its first unbeaten season at home since 1995 with a perfect 5-0 mark at Reeves Field. The Golden Tornadoes will take on 7-2 Greenville College, a team making its first trip to the NCCAA Victory and a team that has not lost at home in 2009.
The Golden Tornadoes are 4-1 in their first five appearances in the Victory Bowl. The only Victory Bowl loss came in 2007 when Geneva dropped a 45-17 decision to Malone College at Reeves Field. Geneva first appeared in the Victory Bowl in 1998 when it defeated Maranatha Baptist. The Golden Tornadoes also defeated Mid-America Nazarene in 1999, Northwestern College in 2002 and North Greenville in 2003.
The Golden Tornadoes had a bitter end their regular season with a 31-28 loss to Westminster College over the weekend. Geneva watched the Titans score the game winning touchdown with only 11 seconds remaining in regulation which in essence forced the Golden Tornadoes to travel to Greenville as opposed to hosting the Victory Bowl for the third time. While Geneva was licking its wounds in New Wilmington, Greenville was busy holding off LaGrange College 28-21 in its regular season finale. The Panthers have actually given up more points than they have scored in 2009. Scoring 21.7 points per game, Greenville has seen its opponents post 22.7 points in its nine regular season games.
Geneva’s offense has been explosive all season averaging 33.5 points per game. In fact, Geneva was held under 28 points only twice during the regular season. Junior running back Gerard Muschette became just the seventh back in school history to surpass the 1000 yard mark in a single season. Muschette has rushed for 1070 yards on 173 carries for the sixth best single season average per carry of 6.2 yards. Seniors Matt Barge and Matt Dean have certainly held up their end of the bargain in the backfield. Combining for over 650 yards of rushing, the senior duo has also scored a combined 17 touchdowns. As a trio, the three-headed monster has rushed for 28 touchdowns in 2009.
Junior quarterback David Girardi has also enjoyed the finest season of his Geneva career. Completing 169-267 passes for 1968 yards and ten touchdowns, Girardi has completed over 63% of his passes. Girardi’s favorite target is freshman Sam Thurston. Thurston has 47 catches for 503 yards and three touchdowns. AJ Delmonico has been effective with 32 catches for 289 yards on the season.
Geneva’s defense has led the PAC in takeaways all season and finished the regular season with 31 takeaways including 19 interceptions. Geneva’s defense has also scored five touchdowns in 2009 to go along with a pair of kick return touchdowns from AJ and Jake Delmonico.
Greenville, an NCAA Division III member of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, will be making its first appearance in the NCCAA Victory Bowl. The Panthers are directed by junior quarterback Joel Lira. Lira has completed over 63% of his passes for over 400 yards. Clearly the Panthers offense is predicated on the running game and the likes of Anthony Ambers and Ketrone Blanks. The junior duo has combined for seven rushing touchdowns and over 1000 yards on the ground.
Geneva will be in search of its eighth victory of the season. It would mark the seventh time during Geno DeMarco’s tenure that the Golden Tornadoes have won at least eight games in a season.